Poorest Cities In Michigan For 2021


We used science and data to determine which places in Michigan are basically dead broke.

RoadSnacks is reader-supported. When you click through real estate links on our site, we earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the poorest places in Michigan.

Michigan brings to mind images of Lansing, beautiful landscapes, and some of the best people you'll find in the good ole US of A.

However, like all states, Michigan has certain places that are going on hard times. These places have an above average percent of people that are living in poverty, out of work, or not making as much as they should be.

With all the talk about income inequality going on around the country, we thought it prudent to take a look at the places in each state that are struggling to make it even as the economy continues to improve. So we set our sites on bringing attention to the places in Michigan that could use a helping hand.

To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 148 places in Michigan with more than 5,000 people.

Here are the ten poorest places in Michigan for 2021:

  1. Highland Park
  2. River Rouge
  3. Benton Harbor
  4. Flint
  5. Muskegon Heights
  6. Hamtramck
  7. Detroit
  8. Saginaw
  9. Ecorse
  10. Inkster

Again, this isn't a commentary on the people that live there or the vibrant culture and traditions of these places. Instead, it's just a look at the facts.

What's the poorst city in Michigan? According to the facts, Highland Park is the poorest place in Michigan for 2021.

Rich people more your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the best places in Michigan or the most dangerous.

For more on how we calculated the top ten, and for more information about these places, read on.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the poorest states in America or the poorest cities in America.

For more Michigan reading, check out:

The 10 Poorest Cities In Michigan For 2021

1. Highland Park

Highland Park, MI

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 10,867
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $18,474 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 22.6% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 46.5% (highest)
More on Highland Park:  Data | Photos

Highland Park, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in Michigan thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.

The city of 10,867 people averages the lowest median household income in Michigan and the highest poverty rate. At the very least, the cost of living ranks in the bottom 15% of place in the state, so things like housing are relatively affordable.

2. River Rouge

River Rouge, MI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 7,502
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Median Income: $25,517 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 24.0% (highest)
Poverty Rate: 42.2% (4th highest)
More on River Rouge:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in Michigan is River Rouge.

The city ranks as having the 4th highest incidence of poverty and 4th lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate 'only' ranks as the highest in the Wolverine State.

3. Benton Harbor

Benton Harbor, MI

Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 9,843
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Median Income: $21,916 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 14.0% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 45.4% (3rd highest)
More on Benton Harbor:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Benton Harbor's median income ranks as the 2nd lowest.

And that's a sign that there's a relatively substantial jump in the quality of the economy from second to third place on our list. The poverty rate is 45.4209824633371% and ranks near the bottom of places in the state.

But what makes up for the relatively low incomes of the city is its low cost of living. The income you do make here goes further than in most parts of the Wolverine State.

4. Flint

Flint, MI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 96,559
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Income: $28,834 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 19.7% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 38.8% (8th highest)
More on Flint:  Data | Photos

Flint ranks as the fourth poorest place in Michigan.

The town ranks as having the 7th lowest median household income and the 8th highest incidence of poverty in the state.

That being said, there's still a ton of cultural diversity in the city as it hosts many events throughout the year.

5. Muskegon Heights

Muskegon Heights, MI

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 10,748
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Median Income: $30,795 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 16.5% (4th highest)
Poverty Rate: 36.7% (9th highest)
More on Muskegon Heights:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in Michigan is Muskegon Heights.

The city ranks as having the 10th lowest median income in the state. However, an extremely low cost of living prevents a good number of folks from living in poverty as the poverty rate only ranks as the 9th highest in Michigan.

Still not the best news for Muskegon Heights.

6. Hamtramck

Hamtramck, MI

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 21,822
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Median Income: $27,166 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.6% (15th highest)
Poverty Rate: 46.5% (2nd highest)
More on Hamtramck:  Data | Photos

Hamtramck ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Wolverine State.

It ranks as having the 2nd highest incidence of poverty and the 15th highest unemployment rate.

7. Detroit

Detroit, MI

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 674,841
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 2)
Median Income: $30,894 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 15.7% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 35.0% (10th highest)
More on Detroit:  Data | Photos

Detroit places as the seventh poorest city in Michigan.

The city of over 674,841 ranks as having the 10th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

8. Saginaw

Saginaw, MI

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 48,650
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 1)
Median Income: $29,582 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.7% (7th highest)
Poverty Rate: 34.8% (11th highest)
More on Saginaw:  Data | Photos

Saginaw ranks as the eighth poorest city in Michigan.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 7th highest in the state.

9. Ecorse

Ecorse, MI

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 9,432
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Median Income: $28,991 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.1% (14th highest)
Poverty Rate: 33.3% (14th highest)
More on Ecorse:  Data | Photos

Ecorse couldn't stay out of the top ten poorest places in Michigan; it ranks number 9.

While the median income is the 8th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Ecorse ranks as having the 14th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Michigan.

10. Inkster

Inkster, MI

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 24,520
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 2)
Median Income: $32,014 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.4% (11th highest)
Poverty Rate: 33.5% (13th highest)
More on Inkster:  Data | Photos

And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Michigan is Inkster.

The city of 24,520 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Wolverine State.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Michigan for 2021

The first thing that comes to most people's minds when they think about determining the poorest places is to simply the poverty rate. That is, the number of people living below a federally established level of income for a household of a certain size.

However, we don't think that one statistic wholly encompasses what it means to be one of the "poorest places". So we looked at this set of criteria from the newly released 2015-2019 American Community Survey:

  • Poverty Level
  • Median Household Income adjusted for the cost of living
  • Unemployment Rate

The "median household income adjusted for the cost of living" attempts to gauge how expensive it is to live in a place and how that impacts the quality of life. For example, a town might have fewer people living below the official poverty line, but the cost of living is so high they'd still feel poor.

The unemployment rate tries to capture the prospects for improvement in the city or town. If more people are employed, the brighter the future looks and vice versa.

After we collected the data for all 148 places with more than 5,000 people in Michigan, we ranked each place from 1 to 148 for each of the criteria, with 1 being the poorest.

We then averaged all the rankings for a place into a "Poor Score" with the place having the lowest overall Poor Score, Highland Park, crowned the "Poorest Place In Michigan For 2021". You can download the data here.

There You Have It - The Poorest Places In Michigan For 2021

Like we said earlier, when we set out to identify the poorest places in Michigan, we weren't sure what we'd encounter, but it ended up being some of the best places to live in Michigan.

When you look at the data, the cities and places mentioned above meet the criteria for being at the very bottom of the income ladder for everyone that lives there.

If you're curious enough, here are the richest cities in Michigan, according to data:

    Richest: East Grand Rapids
    2nd Richest: Beverly Hills
    3rd Richest: Northville

For more Michigan reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Michigan

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Highland Park 10,867 46.5%
2 River Rouge 7,502 42.2%
3 Benton Harbor 9,843 45.4%
4 Flint 96,559 38.8%
5 Muskegon Heights 10,748 36.7%
6 Hamtramck 21,822 46.5%
7 Detroit 674,841 35.0%
8 Saginaw 48,650 34.8%
9 Ecorse 9,432 33.3%
10 Inkster 24,520 33.5%
11 Big Rapids 10,355 40.7%
12 Dowagiac 5,743 32.7%
13 Pontiac 59,955 30.7%
14 Muskegon 37,633 27.9%
15 Jackson 32,673 28.7%
16 Mount Pleasant 25,629 34.6%
17 East Lansing 48,729 41.0%
18 Albion 8,336 27.6%
19 Alma 8,976 24.7%
20 Houghton 7,870 38.8%
21 Bay City 33,167 25.2%
22 Ypsilanti 20,828 31.6%
23 Melvindale 10,348 23.6%
24 Port Huron 29,025 24.4%
25 Sault Ste. Marie 13,591 22.2%
26 Niles 11,211 27.3%
27 Lansing 117,159 24.6%
28 Kalamazoo 76,019 28.4%
29 Cadillac 10,419 21.4%
30 Sturgis 10,905 26.4%
31 Hazel Park 16,525 22.6%
32 Battle Creek 51,316 22.2%
33 Springfield 5,193 21.5%
34 Alpena 10,034 18.8%
35 Belding 5,718 18.0%
36 Lapeer 8,676 19.3%
37 Marquette 20,822 25.0%
38 Harper Woods 13,895 17.4%
39 Hillsdale 8,097 25.6%
40 Escanaba 12,251 19.0%
41 Greenville 8,396 20.3%
42 Mount Clemens 16,315 20.1%
43 Burton 28,654 19.2%
44 Ionia 11,147 24.5%
45 Lincoln Park 36,697 20.4%
46 Romulus 23,527 17.2%
47 Ishpeming 6,464 14.7%
48 Adrian 20,572 23.0%
49 Warren 134,797 17.5%
50 Menominee 8,150 17.2%
51 Wayne 16,976 21.9%
52 Eastpointe 32,443 16.2%
53 Dearborn 94,701 28.2%
54 Taylor 61,379 16.6%
55 Roseville 47,400 15.7%
56 Grand Rapids 198,401 20.4%
57 Owosso 14,536 16.4%
58 Dearborn Heights 55,857 18.6%
59 Holly 6,174 14.4%
60 Monroe 19,775 19.5%
61 Center Line 8,260 9.7%
62 Manistee 6,083 13.1%
63 Ludington 8,069 17.0%
64 Three Rivers 7,659 19.4%
65 Coldwater 12,241 17.8%
66 Charlotte 9,082 14.7%
67 St. Louis 7,189 14.0%
68 Iron Mountain 7,369 12.2%
69 Westland 81,938 14.4%
70 Wyandotte 25,044 13.5%
71 Oak Park 29,726 14.3%
72 Eaton Rapids 5,231 17.3%
73 Southfield 73,174 11.3%
74 Hastings 7,311 10.9%
75 Marshall 6,998 13.2%
76 Utica 5,006 9.5%
77 Flat Rock 9,967 13.4%
78 Howell 9,580 9.9%
79 Southgate 29,165 10.4%
80 Walled Lake 7,173 8.9%
81 Wyoming 75,702 12.1%
82 Auburn Hills 23,572 12.1%
83 Madison Heights 30,120 13.6%
84 Ann Arbor 120,735 22.3%
85 Traverse City 15,570 11.7%
86 Grand Haven 10,994 8.2%
87 Allegan 5,036 13.1%
88 Holland 33,402 12.3%
89 Portage 48,774 8.4%
90 Grand Blanc 7,905 7.5%
91 Rockford 6,254 11.9%
92 Woodhaven 12,518 5.4%
93 Midland 41,920 10.6%
94 St. Clair Shores 59,528 7.6%
95 Fenton 11,375 11.1%
96 Kentwood 51,693 10.9%
97 Petoskey 5,724 9.3%
98 Fraser 14,580 9.9%
99 Swartz Creek 5,535 6.3%
100 Garden City 26,683 9.7%

How Is The Area In ?

 Poorest